Zovko as panellist on the conference “Western Balkans beyond 2020”

Split, 5 November 2020

Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs Željana Zovko participated in the conference “Western Balkans beyond 2020: actions and decisions in times of pandemic”. She took the floor as panellist to discuss the renewed accession process to political, economic, and social transformation of the region. The conference was organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF) and the Liberal Integration Forum.

In her opening remarks, Zovko looked back at the dynamic year for the Western Balkans. The European Union developed a new enlargement methodology and gave the first green light to start the negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Zovko also highlighted the unequivocal support of the Member States expressed at the Zagreb Summit hosted by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 2020 was also characterized by the covid-19 pandemic and Zovko welcomed the European support to the Western Balkans for their health sector and the economic needs. “Our recovery support to the Western Balkans is important on so many levels, mainly since their prosperity affects the stability in the region and the security of our European Union,” she said.

Zovko also shared her reflections on the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and its importance for the European Union’s visibility in the region. She stated that disinformation campaigns have been undermining the EU’s efforts and that a clear communication strategy is necessary. Zovko also called for the inclusion of trade preferences for the Western Balkans as this will boost mutual trade even more.

As final point, Zovko stated that the annual enlargement package showed the momentum created by the revised enlargement methodology and that the Member States have made strong contributions to their European perspective. A recurring issue of the enlargement reports is according to Zovko the lack of the inclusion of the European Parliament’s recommendations regarding the countries in the Western Balkans and their path towards Europe. 

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